Friday group prayers in Pak in violation of government orders

ISLAMABAD: In defiance of current government orders against mass meetings, congregations were held on Friday in most of northwestern Pakistan, even as the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in the country rose to 4,700.

The government had managed to prevent people from attending Friday congregational prayers by deploying security officials and imposing a curfew block for three hours last week. Authorities also forced clerics to announce on loudspeakers, asking the faithful to stay in their homes.

Due to the government's relaxed approach this week, most people refused to stay home and went to mosques to pray on Fridays in most towns and rural areas of the northwestern province. Religion is more important than anything else. I will consider myself a blessed person if the virus infects me because of my religious obligation, said Ali Gohar, a veterinarian in the city of Charsadda.

“The mosque is a safer place and there is no fear. God will take care of his worshipers, ”said Mohammad Wazir, a gunsmith. She was one of 500 people who offered prayers on Friday in congregation at a mosque in the suburbs of Peshawar.

Such meetings raised doubts about Pakistan's resolve to combat the pandemic and health experts feared that coronavirus cases will increase exponentially in the country in the coming weeks.

Civil society activists said Pakistani authorities continued to appease Islamists even as the country faced a worsening public health crisis.

After the emergence of coronavirus cases, many Islamic countries have closed mosques and banned mass prayers. Saudi Arabia even closed the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina to contain the spread of Covid-19. But even such movements failed to dissuade many Pakistanis from coming together.

By the latest count, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 4,700 on Friday: 2,280 in Punjab, 1,214 in Sindh, 620 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 220 in, 215 in, 118 in Islamabad, and 33 in occupied Pakistan. Cashmere. The death toll was 68, while 727 people have so far recovered from the disease.